Venue: Monkgate Theatre
Running until: January 22nd
Directed by: Jonathan Carr
Produced by: Polly Ingham
“Line” is provocative and entertaining. These terms have become clichéd and all too frequently used in any theatre reviewing, and by bounding them around they lose all meaning and worth, but they are the essence of this hugely successful production.
Not enough credit can go to the cast, providing an indefatigable display of ensemble acting. Despite an inevitably languid opening, the energy was ceaseless and no role was inadequately filled with artificial posing or intonation. Stephen (Chris White) filled his part so convincingly he became jarring to watch as he conflicted with the other characters. The facets of his character were explored in depth through the play and his humour was insatiable. Arnall (Ryan Lane) also went to exceed his customary wit, particularly with his description of how the genesis of his name was the conglomeration of “the AR from ‘Arthur’, the Na from ‘Nathan’ and the Ll from ‘Lloyd’”. Though his increasing estrangement from his wife was poignant at moments, he soon resorted to referring to her simply as “Bitch”.
Yet there was no sense that these figures were having to carry the rest of the cast as was seemingly so in some productions of last term. Flemming (Dan Wood) commanded the silent first five or so minutes with expertise; they didn’t become stagnant or tedious despite having so much free stage-time. Likewise, Molly (Veronica Hare) oscillated between seductive coquette and bored wife with ease, and yet managed to play the damning sexual partner when the moment required. Dolan (Louis Lunts) was also succeeded in adopting his role of the sly and manipulative figure, upholding his underdog creed.
The ebb and flow of energy and tension was handled to great success by director Jonathan Carr, reaching a hysterical yet painful peak when Stephen realizes he can’t stop the Eine Kleine Nacht Musik playing in his head. The moment leading him on to declare “I am supposed to die young” precipitates the realisation that his love of Mozart is not simply on aesthetic grounds, but he suffers from a longing for genius and recognition. It is precisely this handling of the balance between comic elements and the ‘philosophical’ issues the play confronts which made it such a success. The brief fight scene was executed in a slick manner uncommon in amateur theatre, and as was Stephen’s final gag.
The handling of the conflict and cooperation of characters allowed the play’s focus to remain solely on the present: it never seemed truly concerned on what was to happen next, but what was happening now. Though it is satisfying to dwell on the metaphorical implications of the line, and indeed you do when watching the production, it was not with these I found myself particularly concerned, but the social dynamic on stage. Truly student drama of the highest calibre.